We are wrapped in mist.
All day long. Cold, white clouds outside. Yellow light inside Shanti Kunj.
The silhouettes of our beloved banj oak trees fading and emerging in the whiteness of the world and the absolute stillness of monsoonal Landour.
It's been a hard day here with Mum and Dad. At its end, as we inch towards the midnight hour - I am typing out these words and Dad is sitting in his chair reading Kipling short stories.
It's hard to see those you love in pain. And pain is what Dad has been experiencing these last ten days. We were so glad that Stefan was able to come and spend a precious set of days with Dad. Stefan painted a number of portraits of Dad over the course of long leisurely conversations.
Here is one of them, which is already hanging up in Mum and Dad's room:
When Stefan left to go back to his family in the US and the second half of his two year Masters of Fine Arts in painting, he posted this picture on FB and said: 'Our last walk. For now.'
It made me want to cry - for the beauty of the image - the two dear ones walking into the mist. Will there be another walk together, or will that have to wait for the unveiling of the New Kingdom and the life eternal?
The day after Stefan left, Dad had a fever and was admitted at Landour Community Hospital for four days. The fever was taken care of the next day and after 3 days of good care, Dad was discharged home.
And then the pain started to kick in for Dad. Big time. I was attending the EHA annual meetings at Ramnagar. Sheba was with Enoch at Lalitpur and I got a call from Mum and Dad on Monday night saying that he just was not doing well. I had earlier planned to be up in Mussoorie for 2 days after the meetings. This became imperative.
So yesterday morning I got to Mussoorie blurry eyed in the mist. It took some time to get to understand how Dad really was. One thing was clear, his pain meds were way below the amount needed. Dad now has significant back pain and continues to have different levels of pain in the abdomen throughout the day. And he has trouble breathing too. He finds it easiest to sit in his chair.
We were also able to give him a shave and a bath, but at present Dad is very weak and can hardly move between his bed and chair. The walks that he had with Stefan seem a distant memory now - and yet it was only ten days ago.
Mum has been a rock of strength for Dad. She has poured herself into caring for him. A beautiful sight - their 49th year of marriage being lived out in its fullest. To have and to hold, in sickness or in health... It is hard for all of us to have Dad so unwell. We are praying and trusting and living each day as it comes. Mum sits with Dad and reads the Bible with him. Prays. Makes small tasty meals for Dad. Gives him back and foot massages. Prays. Talks with him. Looks out at the mist-shrouded trees outside. Checks her emails. Gets the odd phone call (when the phones spark back to life). Checks in on Dad. Prays. Plays the piano a bit. She is a living embodiment of love.
And so tonight we talked about how Dad has come around to trying to 'grit it out' with his pain - to being ready to ramp up the meds without fear of addiction. About how at this point he feels weak and helpless and in need of intensive care - even though he does not really like going that route. Though he wants to be independent, he is very dependent now. Dad asked me to call Mum and we reviewed what our conversation had been and started exploring whether Dad and Mum should come down with me to Lalitpur for the next season of care. We prayed about this and are asking God to show us the next steps forward.
Dad has been ready for death for many years now. He loves Jesus and knows that whatever God chooses to do is good. But the whole process is just not easy. We are walking down a path that none of us has trodden so far.
And so we have slipped into a new day. The lights in both of our rooms are still on. Mum is asleep, but Dad is still reading. I thought he just whispered my name so went across - but he did not, and seems to be in a cheery mood again, ready to brush his teeth and then sleep.
Here is a shot of Mum and Dad which I think sums up their life together. She had just persuaded him to have some food - and then managed to get him to eat some dahi with plum jam. What a life-time of love our dear parents have modeled for us. And continue to do so in the twilight of their lives.
So how long more will we have Dad with us? Only our loving Lord Jesus knows for sure. Is it two days, two weeks, two months or two years? We know one thing for sure - that whenever the Lord chooses to call Dad to the next level of living, Dad will be ready.
Dad's whole life is a fleshing out of Simeon's prophetic statement when that man-who-had-waited-a-lifetime held the infant Jesus in his arms:
“Sovereign Lord, as you have promised,
you may now dismiss your servant in peace.
For my eyes have seen your salvation,
which you have prepared in the sight of all nations:
a light for revelation to the Gentiles,
and the glory of your people Israel.”
- Luke 2.29-32